9 hours. This was the length of time that broadcaster ESPN found necessary to dedicate to building up to, what was frankly, one of the drabbest FA Cup finals in recent history. It was won by Chelsea. But how ironic, that it was shared by two teams, who have themselves shared one trait this season. Underachievement.
Of course, if Chelsea go on to beat Bayern in their own back yard in 2 weeks times, no one will remember the scrappy league campaign. The £15 million gamble on a manager that effectively backfired massively. And a team full of has beens and past its. No. It will be known as the greatest season in the club’s history. And how ironic it was in itself, that as it has throughout Roberto Di Matteo’s short reign, it was the old guard that has dragged them right onto the edge of glory. They faced a Liverpool side who, despite major reinvestment, have been massive let downs this year. The Carling Cup win aside, their league form has been awful, and the manager has been rattled more than one time too many. Many predicted a Chelsea win. And that’s what we got. In truth, Chelsea bossed it. The Red’s midfield pairing of Henderson and Spearing were completely outmatched by messrs Lampard, Ramires and Mikel, and Didier Drogba, fresh from his starring TV appearance the night before, was at his imperious best. Kenny Dalgish’s team were always going to find it difficult to end Chelsea’s recent domination of the trophy, and Pepe Reina’s poor attempt at Ramires’ shot early doors certainly did not help. Drogba’s superbly taken finish compounded the misery, and created a piece of FA Cup history, as he became the first player to score in 4 finals.
But irony was to show his ugly head again. How unusual it was, that in a team full of financial flops, that the man, most remonstrated against after his huge move, was to give Liverpool a route back into the biggest game of their season. Andy Carroll was awesome. His aerial threat was on another level to games gone by, his vision and control a triumph, and his composure to power in the first chance he was given by Chelsea’s otherwise brilliant defence was nothing short of inspired. He was even so unlucky to not take the game into extra time when his goal bound header was somehow kept out by Blues Keeper Petr Cech.
Carroll, visibly disappointed in post match interviews, can certainly feel confident that on a personal level, his name rose slightly vertically, on Roy Hodgson’s list of Euro 2012 strikers. Mind you, he certainly has a lot of work still to do, in order to repay his huge huge transfer fee. But today was certainly a good start. Liverpool, as do Chelsea, have a very important summer of business ahead. Whether Dalglish will receive any more money to fritter away is yet to be seen. And Chelsea have to continue to add quality players like Juan Mata, who again was excellent in his Man of the Match display, if they plan to continue their European success, next term. But today, they may well have decided who will be present, to take them onwards, next season. RDM.